See if you can pick out which statement below represents reaction to yeterday’s news of the foiled terror plot, and which statements represent response to the strategy of terrorism.
- “This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11.” — President George W. Bush, 8/11/06, quoted in the Washington Post Express.
- “We cannot afford no security, but we cannot afford total security, because … absolute security could come only at the expense of grounding all the planes and really undermining our way of life. And that would, of course, be a defeat for America.” — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, 8/11/06, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
- “Everything that can be done to protect [travelers] is being done.” — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 8/11/06, quoted in the Washington Post Express
As Ohio State University national security expert John Mueller points out in his brilliant Regulation article, A False Sense of Insecurity, ”The costs of terrorism very often are the result of hasty, ill-considered, and overwrought reactions.”
By communicating messages of confidence, control, and resolve, two of three top administration officials have done a good job of responding to news of the foiled terror plots. The third has unwittingly played into the terrorism strategy.